By Ethan Harmon
The University of Texas at Dallas has recently decided to campaign to create a smoke-free environment for its facilities. Until the fall 2012 semester, UTD has allowed its students to partake in their habit, should they so choose, so long as the smoking was at least twenty-five feet away from an entrance or window. The college, in association with Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), has now joined with other schools around the nation to prevent tobacco use on its premises. Following the lead of the various Collin County Community College campuses, the University of Texas at Arlington, and Midwestern State University, cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah, and electronic cigarettes are slowly being banned from the school grounds.
This rise against tobacco products (and the prevention of cancer) is a very understandable cause. The campaign wants to prevent disease with not only smokers themselves, but also those who may be exposed to second-hand smoke. And because it is a proven cause of various illnesses, the idea of ridding campuses of the product seems like a no-brainer. Plus, one cannot forget that some students may be pressured – forcefully or not – into trying tobacco, potentially hooking them onto the substance. The harm that can come from tobacco products is high.
But, on the flip-side of things, the campaign itself is forcefully pushing its mandate on the campus, and in turn, the smokers. Now, this article is not advocating the idea of smoking nor is it promoting it, but if one does decide to indulge in tobacco products, it is a choice. Cigarettes are harmful, sure, but the people who use them should not be punished or singled-out because of their habit. They chose to partake in tobacco consumption and followed the rules (standing away from entrances, not contaminating the classrooms) of the school. Now, to force smokers to give up their habit because a campaign wishes it to is asinine.
Campuses, and the CPRIT, have every right to ban smoking. It is a terrible, nasty habit and a potentially harmful one at that. But, in this writer’s opinion, the schools, and the CPRIT, should spend more time enlightening others; perhaps placing a less strict set of rules for smokers to follow. Smoking is a choice, but it should not be one that invites punishment.